Kowloon City Stories / Contribution

50 people living in 9 units

Outside Hau Wong Temple in 1965.
Argyle Street Playground in 1963.
The street view from home. Back then, Nga Tsin Long Road (the section between Nga Tsin Wai Road and Carpenter Road) was lined with hawkers selling daily wet and dry food such as vegetables, fruits, fish and meat. There was a Taochew shop named “Chao Yuen” at the back.
The view from 2nd floor of 52 Nga Tsin Long Road.
The contributor lived at Unit B. Unit D, F and G were bed spaces.

I was born in a subdivided unit inside an old tong lau building at 52 Nga Tsin Long Road. The building was demolished and rebuilt over 30 years ago. There were 50 people living in 9 units in the heyday. What a crowded house! Despite occasional conflicts, neighbours were helpful looking after each other most of the time. The doors were always open and children walked around freely. There were two happenings that I will never forget.

The first one happened when I was about 10 years old. The pipe of the only toilet seat in the house burst and human wastes were everywhere. As the property owner and landlord showed no intention of fixing the mess, the tenant living next to the toilet sealed the seat with cement eventually. Since then, everyone went to the public toilet for taking a crap, while using the old method for taking a leak – the spittoon!

The second happening was the drought in 1963. Water could only be supplied for 4 hours every 4 days. During the rationing, residents gathered half day earlier and drew lots to decide the order of water collecting. The amount was merely enough for drinking as each flat could only access water for less than 30 minutes. We needed to queue on the street for standpipes otherwise. Carrying water back home was the most tiring part. It was the time of hot summer, so we bathed in the public toilet instead every day.

Attached are my old photos. Hope they draw the attention of my childhood playmates so that we can reconnect and reunite in the future!

(Editor’s note: Thank you for the article and precious photos taken in the 1960s, which documented the contributor’s living environment and childhood life with playmates. Hope he can reconnect with his old friends in the photos. Any sharing in forms of text and photo about life in the past are welcomed. Please feel free to contact us.)

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